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Thankfulness in Hindsight

Our family has now owned a dog for a year. This fact fills me with awe and love nearly every day because I spent so many years being a cat person and refusing to get a dog. Our kids would beg, as kids do, and we always said no. Dogs are too much work.


But in spring of last year, the hosts of the Bible study we were leading started the process of breeding their mini goldendoodle. They took a trip to Washington. She spent some amorous time with another mini goldendoodle and then they came home and shared the adventure of that trip.


We all waited, excited for our friends to learn via ultrasound if the dog was pregnant. She was, obviously. At that point, I still had no interest in a puppy. I imagined the difficult nights, the poop in the yard, the hours of training that would be required to have an obedient dog. I still had no interest in that.


Then the puppies were born- little blind creatures that were not so very cute but had potential. Our friend took the job of breeder very seriously. Each puppy was labeled with a color and their temperatures and weights were recorded regularly. Our kids were allowed to hold the puppies but only after washing their hands. The pleas for a puppy escalated but still we were not really interested. We imagined all of the dogs were spoken for anyway.


Around that time, something changed. My husband and I started to have conversations about what it would be like to have a dog. What would we have to do to make sure our kids would be equal partners in this, since I certainly would not take sole responsibility of all the unpleasant tasks. We live in Oregon. Were the kids going to walk her and take her out in the rain? We prayed about it and these thoughts kept percolating. Perhaps it was time.


Not expecting there to be any puppies left, I reached out to our friend to ask, hypothetically, if there were any female dogs left, when they would be available, and the cost. She responded by telling me she had just been praying about finding a good home for the last puppy. And then she got my text. So yes, there was one left and yes, it was a female, and yes, she was certain God meant her for us.


We had a family meeting to announce this to our kids. Part of the requirement of getting the puppy was that she would be well trained. This would require a family effort so everybody had to read a book on how to train a puppy so we were on the same page. The kids agreed, amongst cheers and shouts of joy. I sent a text to my mom and said, “So… we are getting a puppy.” She wrote back, “that is not a text I ever thought I would receive.” Nor was it one I ever thought I would send.


But here we are, a year later. The dog loves all of us and we all, shocking to me, adore this dog. Through lots of work she is well trained. She still sometimes jumps on people out of sheer excitement, but this is much better and we keep working on it. For a while, she was sleeping on our bed, which was the biggest surprise of all. I LOVE her. She is soft and warm and snuggly. She wags her tail in delight when she sees me and is an eager companion for walks. I find joy in watching her prance through the forest, earnestly chasing birds and squirrels. She is cute and adorable and family.


I know many people who read this blog are dog people. Nothing about this story is surprising to you except the beginning, that I was adamantly opposed to getting a dog. You know all of the good things and, just like me, overlook the bad because the good is so good. But for me, this process has been nothing short of divine. God sent us the right dog at the right time. Just like He closed off hearts in the old testament, mine was closed until suddenly it wasn’t anymore. This has been a transformation for us. I don’t know any other way to describe it. I can’t think of any other time I have changed my mind so completely and been so thankful that I did.


Because along came Covid, every pet’s version of utopia. Now we are stuck at home with limited contact to outside friends. We are lonely and frustrated and feel helpless to change the world as it changes so many things that seemed unchangeable. Like going to school. And here we are with a dog who rejoices in our company, so happy to play and cuddle. God knew.


My life actually looks much the same as it did prior to covid, with the exception that my kids don’t go to school. I still go to work and my husband has been manning the ship at home since I was in residency. But I still feel the changes deeply. I liked the illusion of being in control of my life and that is pretty shattered right now. I can’t travel where I want to travel, I can’t go on dates with my husband the way we used to, I can’t host dinners with friends or family inside our house. We have adjusted. A few things are even better than they were before- we use our outside space in creative new ways that we love. But it is hard to feel thankful for the good things when I feel so trapped by the bad.


Then I look at our puppy, who is now a dog but will always be a puppy to me because she is smaller than the labs I had growing up, and I can’t feel anything but thanks for God’s provision. He opened my heart to a new possibility before I needed it, to ensure I would have something unequivocally from God when I would need it most. So many times when I interact with this dog, I am thankful and grateful.


I encourage families to look to the things they can appreciate right now. There is innovation happening at an unprecedented level and when we look back, a year from now, 5 years from now, I think there will be experiences in our lives that came about because God prepared us. Just like this dog is helping us face Covid, the time of Covid might be preparing your children for something they will face in the future. As hard as this time is, we have not been abandoned. Remember the things you are experiencing now might be thing very things you are thankful for in hindsight.


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